While Only By The Night (2008) is the obvious candidate for being considered career defining, with tracks Use Somebody and Sex on Fire launching Kings Of Leon to mainstream success and earning the band their first US top 5 entry, many of the albums since have left something to be desired, particularly for longer established fans. That is, until WALLS.
Full of fast, southern rock riffs and bellowing choruses that sound like they were made for festival main stages and radio play, WALLS certainly does enough to please fans old and new alike. Following similar themes found on Mechanical Bull (2013), this ten track album feels more complete and well-rounded than its predecessor.
The Nashville band have been somewhat experimental this time round, making use of latin influences and percussive elements in Muchacho that are completely new to this album. All the while the Followill brothers (and cousin) stay true to their fast, rock anthem sound characterised by Caleb’s (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) raspy southern tones, and Matthew’s infectious lead guitar hooks.
Overall the sound is one of their most mature and refined to date, leaving no room for thinking that any of the tracks are undeserving of their place on the album. Opening track Waste A Moment is fast, loud, and atmospheric, with a chorus reminiscent of Sex On Fire; while Reverend is slower, notable for the bright riffs slipping into an ominous minor key, making for an exciting listen. Around The World definitely has the makings of a live favourite, with crisp and distinctive chords, a country infused guitar solo, and an anthemic chorus.
A particular stand-out is Over, with Caleb’s voice affecting a distinctive, grave tone in the verses that contrasts with his strained cries later on in the song. What ties the album together though is the beautifully stripped back, emotive title track WALLS, which explores the themes of losing and rediscovering love, your place in the world, and yourself; all of which are present throughout the album.
WALLS certainly does not disappoint as an eighth release from a rock band revered by so many. It may be the direction we expected Kings Of Leon to take, but that by no means makes it any less exciting.